If you saw the first round of the WWE UK and Ireland Championship tournament, you saw the best of British wrestling. The matches were fine, with a few great exceptions, but that’s not what I mean – what you saw was the epitome of a great UK wrestling show. What makes UK shows different, and unique in many ways, is the crowd. The chanting, singing, delightfully sweary crowd.
Fans who aren’t from the UK, or who are just not used to our crazy British ways, might find this distracting. It’s common to see people from North America, for example, complaining that the famously smarky UK crowds “go into business for themselves”. Trust us – that couldn’t be further from the truth.
To a British crowd, good chanting is a sign of love. It’s a practice long established in UK football leagues (soccer, to those of you who need a guide to British chanting), as well as other sports like darts. The chances are that if a new tune suddenly becomes fashionable at wrestling shows, it may well have come from the football terraces: hence everything currently being sung to the tune of the riff in Seven Nation Army.
Chanting is basically common to all forms of contest where being quiet isn’t a necessity. You’d never get “Fuck him up, Andy, fuck him up!” during one of Murray’s matches at Wimbledon, but “You’re going home in a binbag!” is perfectly acceptable in Robot Wars, which is totally a wrestling promotion as far as this site is concerned.
Essentially, the chants and songs British fans come up with indicate that:
- The crowd is highly engaged in what they’re seeing. Occasionally, if a match is particularly boring, the crowd might chant about this to make their feelings known because come on, dude, they paid to see this.
- They’re keen to show their support for the wrestlers they love, and disdain for the ones they hate. Chants follow performers around the country, and crowds often adapt existing chants depending on whether the performer is a face or a heel.
- There’s no denying it – sometimes crowds come up with chants to amuse each other. To me, that’s because being fans of the same thing, in the same place, sharing the same experience, fosters a special sense of community. It’s like going to a gig where everyone loves the same band and sings along to all the same songs. These chants are almost always aimed at the show, the performers, or the promotion running things, but there’s clearly at least half an eye on getting a pop from your fellow fans. Either way, it’s a sign that the fans are interested in what’s going on around them.
Don’t be afraid of a bit of proper British chanting. It’s often inventive, usually tuneful and absolutely always a sign the crowd cares. Crucially, everyone is in on the joke.
Here’s a guide to some of the chants you’ll be hearing on night 2 of the UK tournament, with some extra thrown in for context. Please note: we’re assuming you’ve heard of entry-level chants like “Let’s go [insert name here]” and “Fuck him up [insert name here], fuck him up *clap clap*”. Even American audiences do those.
To see some of our favourite and least favourite chants from 2016 (including some from elsewhere in the world), read the final part of our end-of-year awards, the Stompies.
“We’re the Trent Seven Army”
Usually sung to the tune of the riff from Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes. For some reason basically everything is using those seven notes at the moment – it’s a staple among drunk and excitable darts fans too – but Trent’s name has Seven in it so I guess it should be allowed.
“Top-knot Wanker (clap clap clap-clap-clap)”
This used to be common for Pete Dunne, but he’s since had a haircut. You’ll hear it for any heel who has their hair tied at the top of their head, because it’s the worst, most pretentious, most painfully hipster hairstyle going.
In general, putting a noun before the word “wanker” is just a way of making the insult more personal – you’re not just a wanker, you’re a wanker who has a topknot and the two may be related. It’s a reference to a TV show called The Inbetweeners, in which everyone seems to be some sort of wanker. See also: briefcase wanker, bus stop wanker.
“Yer Da sells Avon”
A peculiarly Scottish insult, explaining that the person in question’s father sells Avon makeup. This may come up when Scots like Wolfgang appear, since it’s particularly popular in his home promotion of ICW. Former ICW Women’s Champion Viper actually said this to Io Shirai ahead of her upcoming Stardom title match in Japan.
"And yer da sells Avon as well"
Automatic queen of Scotland, budge up Nikki Sturgeon. 👸🏼 https://t.co/rsvfYv173U
— Viper バイパー (@missviper91) January 14, 2017
“He’s got his own face on his arse” (To the tune of He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands)
James Drake has a picture of his own face on the back of his trunks. This is quite a common tune for wrestling and football songs: see also, masked and horned El Ligero receiving chants of “He’s got shit horns on his head”.
Specifically directed at Pete Dunne, who is a spectacular heel. I’m not sure how this footballing heckle started for him, but he doesn’t seem to like being addressed by his full name so fans have taken that ball and run with it.
It’s an established enough sporting chant to have been lovingly pastiched:
“Hey, hey [name] – ooo, ah – I wanna know if you’ll be my [girl/boy/god/anything else]” (To the tune of Hey Baby, which has been covered so many times nobody knows who did it first)
You may have heard this with Bayley’s name. We invented it, Full Sail nicked it and ran it into the ground. Night 1 of the UK Championship tournament saw this used for Saxton Huxley, admirably adapted to “Hey Jesus”. It’s just a wonderfully cheesy pop song that nobody likes but everyone knows.
“You’re just a shit [insert name here], shit [name]”
Jordan Devlin got “You’re just a shit Finn Balor” on night 1 of the tournament because, well, he looked like a less good, younger Finn Balor. This chant can go one of two ways: you’re either a less good version of something good, or you’re a less good version of something already quite bad, which is a particularly unpleasant insult. One very specific case relates to Sha Samuels, whose cockney geezer gimmick led to allegations that he was just a shit version of TV cockney geezer Danny Dyer.
“This is Progress!” or “I-C-Dub!”
These are the chants fans use at shows to support Progress and ICW, who are two of the UK’s biggest indie promotions. Wolfgang is currently ICW champion, Pete Dunne is Progress champion and Tyler Bate and Trent Seven hold Progress’ tag team belts. They’re a small fraction of the UK indie scene, though, which is absolutely on fire at the moment – and most of the shows are at least as good as what you’re getting from Blackpool this weekend. Track down a UK indie and learn about them after this tournament: Futureshock, Preston City Wrestling, IPW, XWA, Tidal, Attack!, 5 Star Wrestling and many more are definitely worth your time. There’s also a real movement in women’s wrestling, with the likes of Pro Wrestling EVE, Empress Pro and Bellatrix on the rise.
Any wrestler’s name to the tune of Daddy Cool by Boney M, Hey Jude by the Beatles, Give It Up by Kool and the Gang, or another classic song
We like them.